Relatives of the Uvalde, Texas, schoolchildren were taken to a “reunification” center after the gunman did his work. That struck me — the word reunification. Because it was a lie. So many parents would never be reunited with their precious sons and daughters, little fourth-graders, who were gunned down in their classroom last week, along with their teachers. The killer? Another angry young man who bought himself two AR platform rifles for his 18th birthday.
We Americans are choking on our rage, and so much of it is funneled into violence against children.
I feel ashamed. We call ourselves responsible citizens, and yet we abide the sacrifice of our children. We cry — and we keep re-electing to office the pro-gun candidates who are in bed with the NRA. We pledge allegiance to our flag knowing all the while that the killing of school kids in their classrooms is an all-American pastime. It doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world with the frequency that it happens in our homeland.
Golda Meir famously said that when Israel’s enemies loved their children more than they hated Israel, peace would be possible. The same could be said of Congress: When they love our children more than they hate standing up to the National Rifle Association, the slaughter will stop.
I recalled Golda’s lament after Columbine in 1999, and in 2012 after Sandy Hook, and in 2018 after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. Between those dates, according to Wikipedia, there were 31 other school shootings in the United States. Some 70 percent of the shooters were 18 or younger.
We know we have a mental health crisis among our teenagers. We don’t have enough caregivers, and we don’t have a functioning system in place to get help to those in pain. The single greatest cause of death among American children is now shootings.
These words are hard to write, and I hoped to focus on something else this week, perhaps something lighter, but the events of the day eclipse the possibility of distraction. In this moment of loss and horror, we need to keep beating the drum for gun regulations. We need to beat the drum even as we are exhausted by the noise, even as we feel the intransigent power of the NRA pushing back.
In Uvalde, as in Parkland, as in Columbine, the usual post-massacre teams gathered at the scene: police, media by the truckload and a group that travels from killing spree to killing spree with counselors and money for funerals and warnings about post-murder scams.
The fact that we have such a team in America is both a further indictment of our society and, obviously, a necessity.
We all know the lingo of “lockdown” and “active shooter” and PTSD caused by shootings. Really, it is an abomination that we have become so proficient at handling the tragedies rather than preventing them.
Remember Sandy Hook? Dylan’s mom and Daniel’s dad write to me often. In truth, I dread reading their e-mails; their words darken the day. But how wrenching it must be to write the words. These parents are leaders of the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, the group that works toward stricter gun control laws. They are victims of the tragedy, both having lost first-graders in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012. Their work is pure and heroic — trying to find a slender thread of hope in the heap of terrible grief that has consumed their lives.
Now David Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland massacre, writes to me, seeking support for an anti-gun group called Never Again MSD, which is marching yet again this week in memory of Uvalde and to urge stricter gun laws.
They write to me, and millions of others, to garner support for laws that would prevent another mass shooting, or at least reduce the odds. But there has been so little progress.
Instead of sensible gun-control laws drafted by a responsible Congress, we have unctuous sentiments without any commitment to change our gun laws for the better.
Our only power is our vote. We need elected officials who promise to take on gun violence with substantive legislation.
Do members of Congress love their children? You bet they do. Do they love their jobs so much that they will not stand up to the NRA? You bet they do. When they love their children, and America’s children, more than they love NRA money, we may see meaningful legislation on guns.
Twenty-seven school shootings so far this year, according to NPR. And counting.
Copyright 2022 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.